Company news
July 15, 2023

Digital twins in practice: scale-up Twintag counts oil giant ExxonMobil among its customers

A 'digital twin' is a virtual copy of a product, a machine, a process, a factory department or even an entire city.

Digital twins in practice: scale-up Twintag counts oil giant ExxonMobil among its customers

This article was originally published on Trends by Laurens Bouckaert on July 15, 2023. You can read the original article here.

The software technology should provide users with new insights into the operation, origin or composition of the physical product. One of the Flemish companies that markets this technology is the scale-up Twintag. Its software platform offers applications that allow companies to enrich their products for end customers with such a digital twin, often in the form of a QR code. In this way, additional information can be provided or feedback can be received.

When we think of digital twin technology, we often think of an Internet of Things (IoT) network that is connected to sensors, chips, drones or cameras in the real world. But those elements don’t always have to be present. “For many products in the world, it’s simply not economically viable to attach an expensive sensor or chip to them,” Twintag CEO Alexander Carpentier notes in an interview with Trends.

'No more hours on the phone with customer service'

“We use QR codes in 95 percent of the cases we work on,” it says. “Purely because it is cheap and accessible. Everyone has a scanner on their mobile phone in their pocket. The importance of this has increased during Covid times. Since then, everyone knows that you have to scan a QR code. As soon as you scan them, products are connected to our system.”

More specifically? “We make a digital fingerprint of each unique product,” the passionate tech entrepreneur explains. “We connect that to a place in the cloud. That allows us to set up a digital communication channel for the customer’s physical product, for all kinds of applications.”

One of those applications? “Our pilot project with ExxonMobil,” says Carpentier. The American multinational focused on sustainability and traceability during Covid times. “The oil producer specifically wanted the possibility to equip each bag of polyethylene granules, each pallet and each truck with a unique scannable code. The intention was to create transparency in the logistics chain. In this way, each player in the supply chain had access to the relevant information of the product and had the opportunity to add information. We started working with that idea.”

What is – in a nutshell – the bottleneck that Twintag is tackling? “The time it takes to get information about a specific product that you are going to work with. You no longer have to call customer service and wait on hold for half an hour to find out all sorts of things.”

Digital passport

The future looks bright for data transport software platforms. “It is becoming more and more relevant for companies to differentiate their products with all possible digital information. Because they have a story to tell about their product, in terms of traceability, for example, but it can also be marketing related. Now sustainability and circularity are increasingly on the rise.”

This emphasis on sustainability does not come about by chance. For example, the European Union requires that every unique product in Europe receives a digital passport.

“One product group after another is getting a digital passport,” Carpentier knows. “In addition, every reusable packaging will have to get a QR code or another digital marking, with the ultimate recycling of the product in mind. The European Commission is now determining which information should be given to which product group, so that it can be recycled more easily. Batteries will be the first, then textiles, mattresses and electronic components. The traceability of the material ensures that you know better whether you can recycle something or not.”

Earlier this year it was announced that Twintag had signed a commercial cooperation agreement with the Dutch EE Labels . For the workwear manufacturer Tricorp Workwear, the companies will start working with QR codes woven on workwear.

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